Wildcats Stunned In Overtime (Men’s Soccer)

Ben Larrison

By Ben LarrisonThe Daily Northwestern

After another tough Big Ten loss, Northwestern’s hopes for securing an NCAA bid before the conference tournament are all but dead.

Michigan State (9-5-2, 1-2-2 Big Ten) scored with just two minutes remaining in the second overtime period to stun the Wildcats 2-1 on Sunday in East Lansing, Mich.

While the team is disappointed with NU’s record this fall, the Cats are not ready to give up on the season just yet. The Cats are hoping a win against a ranked Northern Illinois team this Friday and a run in the Big Ten tournament will be good enough for an NCAA tournament bid, and this week’s RPI rankings should be a good indicator of NU’s chances.

“Yeah, it is a little bit frustrating,” NU coach Tim Lenahan said. “(It’s like) you’re banging on a rock with a hammer, and nothing happens to the rock. But then one time you hit the rock, and it explodes. So we’re not going to change anything, we’re going to keep doing what we’re doing and hope for the explosion here.”

Down 1-0 in the second half, the Spartans’ Kenzo Webster scored the tying goal after chasing down a defensive pass that skipped past NU keeper Will Briley and knocking it into the empty net.

“It was our game to win,” Lenahan said. “We made a mistake in the back, a miscommunication and we let them back in the game.”

NU junior David Roth had the first goal of the game, finding the the net on a direct kick from just outside the box. The shot gave Roth his Big Ten-leading seventh goal of the season and NU a 1-0 lead in the 18th minute.

But in the 73rd minute, a Cats miscue led to a Michigan State goal that would eventually force overtime. The defense tried to a pass back to the goalie, but the ball got by Briley, and Webster scored the equalizer.

“From the soccer perspective, we played as well as we can play,” Lenahan said, “We’re committed to playing attractive, attacking soccer, and when you play that way you have to score more goals than one.”

The loss dropped the Cats to 10-6 on the year, with their conference mark falling to 2-4. Since a 3-1 victory over Ohio State on Sept. 17, the Cats have scored just four Big Ten goals to their opponents’ seven.

NU has now lost three of its last four, since a school-best 7-1 start, and it’s no surprise that the losing has started to make an impact on the team.

“We won two games, we should have done better this year,” Lenahan said. “But how many times have we won two (conference) games in Big Ten history? This is our third.”

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